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7 Guilt-Free Ways + Reasons to Throw Out Your Kids Toys NOW

y Guilt-Free Ways and Reasons to Throw Out Your Kids Toys Now, Celebrating Everyday Life with Jennifer CarrollOne of my missions this summer is to finally organize my daughter’s bedroom. You see, after the move, we dumped everything in there, and I didn’t look back. Fast forward 12 months (has it really been that long?!) and enough is enough. She needs to start sleeping in there, so I knew I had to once and for all tackle this project.

One of the main reasons I was putting this off was because there was just so. much. stuff! My little one is blessed with two full sets of grandparents plus aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and of course a mom and dad who love to give her gifts but we were literally being buried under a mountain of “toys/stuff.”

I just wanted to throw it all out, but that felt rash and harsh – and I worried maybe a little too extreme. Then I stumbled upon this article and was delightfully shocked by the freedom that I felt from this possibility that I actually could wipe out most of this mess without emotionally scarring my daughter for life.

In case you too are overrun with too many toys in your own home I wanted to share my tips!

The dreaded “before” – oh the horror!!

y Guilt-Free Ways and Reasons to Throw Out Your Kids Toys Now, Celebrating Everyday Life with Jennifer Carroll

7 Guilt-Free Ways + Reasons to Throw Out Your Kids Toys NOW

#1 – Take time to think it through for yourself

Like the kids in the article my little one seemed caught in a loop of “I want.” Everywhere we went I would hear “Can I get this?” It was an exhausting discussion to have over and over and over. As much as possible I want our times together to be filled with pleasant conversation not an epic battle over some toy that will join Mt. Toysmore.

Plus, I realized that all these toys were adding a tremendous amount of unnecessary STRESS to our daily lives. Toys were spilling out all over the place. And even though I would drone on day after day about picking up your toys as soon as you were done playing with them (and tried to have strategic toy storage areas everywhere) there were still always toy messes in every room.

My life is chaotic enough with all the projects I have going on, not to mention the insane schedule I was keeping working two full-time jobs, and I began craving simplicity.

As I read that article, I began to consider the emotional price that we were paying with the constant “I want” debates (that would occasionally border onto fits!). Then, even more importantly, I began to understand the daily stress the clutter was creating. These realizations gave me both hope and a type of mental permission to take my fantasy of hauling out the toys and make it happen.

#2 – Get your family on board!

Even though her Dad and I no longer live together, he is still very much a part of our daily lives so I discussed this with him because I wanted his support. Since we don’t live in the same house it would have been possible to move forward with this even if we weren’t on the same page, but so much easier since we were.

Next, I wanted his help with getting the message across to all of our family members. It’s one thing for me to say no more to loads of toys but I knew that come Christmas and her birthday we’d be inundated again if something was done.

I was surprised by how open our family was to the “no more stuff” idea. Hallelujah!

One final step in this stage is to explain what’s happening/about to happen to your child. I won’t lie, this part is not easy. And honestly, I wasn’t looking for her “approval” I just wanted her to understand what was happening. So we sat down with her and explained that we love her very much and that she is not being punished. That we want to help her enjoy her daily life more by her having a “just right” amount of items (like Goldilocks) so that she would have more fun in her room, less frustration about how messy things were, less Mommy and Daddy grumpiness about the mess, and would be free to be more creative in her room.

Initially, she had a melt-down at the idea of losing most of her toys. She did. But then, miracle of miracles she really did get over it! She accepted it (and even helped me sort it all out! – more on that in a moment…).

#3 – Create a Gift Plan

The real test will come with the next big holiday. To try to help everyone adjust and be prepared we’re suggesting a specific gift proposal. We’re going to try the “Want, Need, Wear, Read” approach. It’s four gifts. One is something she “wants,” another something she “needs,” and so forth. We’re asking that everyone stick to this if possible OR that they do just one “experience” gift instead.

#4 – Establish the One-In, One-Out Rule

I know that with these changes we will still end up with another load of toys if we aren’t careful so I’ve also established the one-in, one-out rule with my daughter. For every new toy she wants to keep she must pick a toy she already has to donate. In theory this should keep us at a manageable level.

#5- Let the Great TOY DECLUTTER begin!

First decide if you want to include your child in the declutter process. At first my daughter didn’t want to participate because she was pretty emotional, but then she suddenly decided she did want to help me. I wasn’t sure if it would work or not, but actually, she did a great job of helping me sort it all out.

Obviously, all kids are different, but I was really grateful for her help especially because I want this to become a lifestyle for us and not just a summer project. And by having her involved, it gives her a deeper investment in the process.

Next, determine how many toys to do you want to keep? This is pretty subjective and can be hard to decide. I’ve read several articles that all suggest different numbers. Some say 10 toys some say 20. I think you need to find a “sweet spot” for you. I ultimately decided to not worry so much about the “number” and just went with what felt right, what fits well, what is a manageable amount that I know she will play with, and more importantly that she’ll keep up with so that everything stays tidy!

Supplies for 7 Guilt-Free Ways and Reasons to Throw Out Your Kids Toys Now, Celebrating Everyday Life with Jennifer Carroll

Ready to begin the toy decluttering process?

OK, you need to arm yourself with lots of GIANT BLACK TRASH BAGS and TWO CLEAR PLASTIC TUBS. The exact number you need will depend on your amount of stuff….

1. Designate one bag for TRASH – items that are not in decent enough condition to be donated or just general trash that you come across during the purging process.

2. Have bags for DONATIONS. We loaded so many bags of items to donate it was shocking even to me.

Donate Toys from 7 Guilt-Free Ways and Reasons to Throw Out Your Kids Toys Now, Celebrating Everyday Life with Jennifer Carroll

3. Use the TUBS for sorting the toys you are keeping. We had two tubs. One tub was for toys we would keep in her room and one tub that we packed with some toys that we will store and use like a library system. These were toys that she was having a bit of a hard time saying goodbye to. I’m going to see how this system works. I’m secretly hoping that they will be out of sight/out of mind and we’ll be able to donate them… for now, though they are going into storage and we’ll see if we will need to rotate or donate them.

This 2-tub system also really helped during the sorting process because it helped her narrow down what was most important to her. Once the two tubs were full but there were still toys in the room she knew she had to take something out to make room or just donate the item. It worked really well for us!

7 Guilt-Free Ways and Reasons to Throw Out Your Kids Toys Now, Celebrating Everyday Life with Jennifer Carroll

#6 – Stay on it

The initial flurry of activity is a huge step in the process of creating a more simple and stress-free home environment which honestly I think we all crave, but the real key to success lies in the follow-through. Find your best system for managing this. While I’m trying to keep a watchful eye on an almost daily basis when I see trinkets coming in from Girl Scout day camp, Vacation Bible Camp, etc…. I know that I will also need to set aside an hour or two once a month to help her make sure her spaces are staying within the borders we set.

#7 – Celebrate the Process

This is a big step you are taking and one that I believe will be a major blessing in your whole family’s peace and well-being. But it’s also a difficult step for your child because no matter how positive you try to make it, they still feel like they are losing a bunch of stuff and well, they’re right, they are. They don’t quite understand the freedom and peace that will ultimately come from this like you do.

To help make this more fun, I recommend being purposeful in having “fun” during this process. On the purge day, plan to order pizzas, or when you take the items to the donation center stop for ice cream afterward. Make it a positive experience as much as possible.

Also, be sure to especially PRAISE your child as they are keeping their room and play spaces tidy in the coming weeks. This positive reinforcement will help them begin to really see the benefits of the sacrifice they made.

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I’m now inspired to do this in more areas of our home, and I hope our success with this encourages you in your journey to more peace and joy in your everyday life!

Happy Celebrating!

Jennifer Carroll. Celebrating Everyday Life blog

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  1. I have eight children and my parents love to give gifts. It would be very easy for it to become overwhelming like that. We constantly talked to my parents about gifts and have encouraged them more and more to purchase experience gifts. We have even asked the children, and they all say they would much prefer an experience gift over more stuff to clean up. They still buy a few things–but they have cut it WAY down.

    My brother (who also buys the children gifts) thought my children had no toys except for Legos! He lives out of state and when he came to visit, all of the toys were put away! Because he didn’t see tons of toys sitting out, he thought my children didn’t have any except for the Legos he saw!

    I love that cleaning up is much simpler and less stressful with fewer toys. We had some trouble for a few years with too many Christmas gifts from my parents, but as they’ve cut back it has been so much better.

    At Christmas and birthdays, it means we don’t give toys. My parents and my brother keep buying Legos (which as some point is going to be too much as well) and we give clothing, art supplies, books, jewelry, and consumable gifts, such as candy and clementines. I made smaller Christmas stockings so that they can be full with just a few items, which also made me feel more generous, rather than feeling bad for not filling huge stockings.

    My father-in-law gets each child a magazine subscription for Christmas. All of my children love this gift! He spends $10 a year per child and the children get excited about his gift every month. The magazines are loved and read and we don’t keep all of them around afterward, which is a help too.

    My children will regularly cull toys that aren’t their taste anymore now. If they’re not really playing with it, they give it to me to donate to the thrift store.

  2. I have been doing lots of purging in the last month…tossing, donating and taking the “must keep but doesn’t fit into the staging process” to the storage unit….all to prepare for placing our home on the market. I so remember the days of going through my son’s toys a very long, long time ago. I saved his favorites and so glad I did as my granddaughter played with his toys and really enjoyed them. It made him happy to see her play with them too. I wish I had kept a few of mine. Yes, de-cluttering/purging is such a great feeling! I have to always remember that my mom is a happy, happy person as she never wanted for much and kept things simple in her surroundings and her life. Love your daughter’s beautiful room!

  3. I can’t tell you how much I loved reading this. I’ve grown so overwhelmed with the amount of STUFF filling/cluttering each corner of our lives and minds. Pairing down on toys is a great first step. It’s a paradigm shift really from feeling we “need” all these things to realizing how little is actually is necessary.

  4. The June arrangement is sweet and perfect to add a fresh look to any room. I look forward to your book which will provide inspiration and knowledge.

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